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Environmental crime growing: EU to take action

Environmental crime growing: EU to take action

December 20, 2021

The EU is planning to take action as globally, environmental crime is 4th largest criminal activity and is growing at 5-7% per year.

The EU Commission adopted a proposal for a new EU Directive to crackdown on environmental crime, a cornerstone of the European Green Deal. The new proposal will require the EU Member States to take criminal law measures that could include imprisonment of up to ten years.

It defines new environmental crimes, sets a minimum level for sanctions and strengthens the effectiveness of law enforcement cooperation. It also obliges the Member States to support and assist people who report environmental offences and cooperate with the enforcement. This proposal will help to protect nature and natural resources, as well as public health and well-being.

Environmental crime is highly lucrative – it can be as profitable as illegal drug trafficking, but the sanctions are much lower and less often prosecuted. These factors make it highly attractive for organised crime groups.

The proposed environmental criminal offences include illegal timber trade, illegal ship recycling, or illegal water abstraction. At the same time, the proposal will clarify existing definitions of environmental criminal offences to increase legal certainty.

Sanctions for environmental crimes that cause death or serious injury to any person, the penalty imposed by member States will include imprisonment of up to ten years. Additional sanctions could consist of the restoration of nature, the exclusion from access to public funding and procurement procedures or the withdrawal of administrative permits. 

There will be support of inspectors, police, prosecutors and judges through training, investigative tools, coordination and cooperation, and better data collection and statistics.

Environmental crimes often impact several countries or have cross-border effects (for example, cross-border pollution of air, water, and soil). Law enforcement and judicial authorities can only tackle these crimes when they work together across borders.

Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, said: “Letting law-breakers act with impunity undermines our collective efforts to protect nature and biodiversity, fight the climate crisis, reduce pollution, and eliminate waste. Serious abuses must be met with a serious response, and today’s proposal lays the groundwork for that.”

The EU Commission will now submit the proposal to the European Parliament and the Council.

Categories : World Focus

Tags : Crime Environment EU EU Commission Frans Timmermans

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